Will Modi prove Jinnah was right ?

This week the neighbours of the sub continent , India and Pakistan,  are celebrating the 70th anniversary of getting independence from British rule.

The paths followed by the two new nations were divergent , Pakistan becoming an Islamic state and India choosing a secular path with no state religion and many state sponsored support system for minorities and Dalits to ensure they can thrive in the society.

But in recent years the paths are converging. India under Hindutva leader Modi is becoming more and more like Pakistan.

India and Pakistan are also remembering the 70th anniversary of bloody partition which saw millions die. Jinnah, the most forceful proponent of Pakistan insisted on partition warning that Muslims in a predominantly Hindu India would be severely suppressed. Now it seems Modi and the Sangh are proving Jinnah was right.

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Designer babies – Hindutva style

The RSS, the parent organisation of Hindutva based political and cultural movement in India, was always obsessed with racial purity and a staunch believer in greatness of traditional Indian health care system, Ayurveda. Combining the two, its affiliate organisation Arogya Bharati is conducting seminars and counselling sessions in different cities for Indian couples to get the baby they desire.

The two-day workshop and counselling “Garbha Sanskar” in Kolkata – for future parents to give birth to the “Best” Child, as announced and organised by Arogya Bharti, the health and family welfare wing of RSS in the South Kolkata office of the RSS. The announcement and advertisements (which clearly state that the organisation is part of the RSS) clearly described that the two-day workshop will be on reforms of child bearing and counselling of couples on “how to have a good child”. As D-day grew closer, the language of the ads changed to “best child” and examples of geniuses and celebrities symbolising this “best”-ness surfaced. Unsurprisingly, these were mostly men who had become the “best” through the traditional Indian practice of Ayurveda.

One of the ads in social media reads, “Weeds may grow in garden without attention, but to have a beautiful flower one needs proper planning and regular attention….The traditional Indian practice to have a good child is gradually becoming extinct and society is suffering from the subsequent poisonous result”. It was not clear what was meant by “weeds”.

  • Image credit: Narinder Nanu/AFP

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Land for harvesting votes

Ever since Modi became Prime Minister of India, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s business has expanded by manifold. Not only his spiritual Yoga business but also his “chemical free” consumer goods  business.

Baba who had claimed his “genuine” Ayurvedic medical products and yoga can cure AIDS and Homosexuality has now become the leading player in whole range of products for home use. It seems the tremendous support Modi got from Baba Ramdev for catching votes is being reciprocated by giving huge chunks of land at big discounts as per this Reuters report.

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Determined to lose heart and minds of Kashmiris

The ruling Hindutva party in India, the BJP, is it seems determined to antagonise the local population in Kashmir valley. They act as if they only consider the land of Kashmir as part of India , not the people living there.  This is reflected in the award given to an army officer who became infamous by using a civilian tied to a jeep as a human shield against stone pelting by Kashmiris.

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Ambedkar on Islam, Partition and Hindu Raj

Dr B R Ambedkar, Dalit icon and architect of Indian Constitution was a personality whose writings are used by all kinds of people to highlight their points. The  Marxist Left in India use them to fight Hindutva Right, the non Marxist Left and the centrist Congress use them to fight the Hindutva and the Communists, the Hindutva Right use it to attack Islam and the Dalits try to use them for their own survival.

So what did Ambedkar write about Islam ?

In his book Pakistan Or The Partition Of India, a collection of his writings and speeches,  published in 1940 Ambedkar wrote :

Hinduism is said to divide people and in contrast Islam is said to bind people together. This is only a half truth. For Islam divides as inexorably as it binds. Islam is a close corporation and the distinction that it makes between Muslims and non-Muslims is a very real, very positive and very alienating distinction. The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is a fraternity, but its benefit is confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation, there is nothing but contempt and enmity. The second defect of Islam is that it is a system of social self-government and is incompatible with local self-government, because the allegiance of a Muslim does not rest on his domicile in the country which is his but on the faith to which he belongs. To the Muslim ibi bene ibi patria is unthinkable. Wherever there is the rule of Islam, there is his own country. In other words, Islam can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin.

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Cow rights versus human rights

Shiv Viswanath writes in The Hindu

” Worse, there is a split, where the Muslim is portrayed as a butcher in these Hindutva dreams, while the cow as animal acquires a humanity. With this inversion, the cow becomes a person while the Muslim becomes a non-person, losing his rights as a citizen. Such a militant Hindutva has little sense of Hinduism or the Constitution.”

I agree with his view that Hindutva forces consider Muslims as non persons, inferior to Cows.
I also agree that it is completely in opposite to the position of our Constitution.
But to say that such an attitude has nothing to do with Hinduism is wrong. It seems Shiv Viswanath has not read Hindu scriptures properly. Or he is trying to absolve religion of its guilt , a very common practice among intellectuals to remain popular.

 

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See Manu smrithi 4:162
“Let him never offend the teacher who initiated him, nor him who explained the Veda, nor his father and mother, nor (any other) Guru, nor cows, nor Brahmanas, nor any men performing austerities.”
Hindus always had a rigid hierarchy in which those without a sacred thread had much inferior position than the cows.

Hindutva forces are only using those inhuman scriptures to create hate and grab power.

Oppressor at home the bigger villain ?

India’s Hindutva ruling party and its leader Modi wants to make India a Hindu country run by rules and regulations of Hindu traditions. They garner votes by spreading hate of other religions and its followers.  But interestingly  here we see follower of a non Hindu religion, Islam, petitioning the Prime minister for help.

 

When mother-of-two-girls, Shagufta Shah, became pregnant a third time, her husband asked her to get an abortion.
Shamshad Sayeed didn’t want another daughter; neither did his parents.
“They feared that if I deliver a girl again, she will be a burden,” Shagufta said. “When I refused repeatedly, they started torturing me. On March 24, they forcibly tried to take me to the hospital and, when I resisted, they started beating me mercilessly.” Failing to get the child aborted, Shamshad and his family threw Shagufta out of the house.
“He (Shamshad) verbally gave me triple talaq and I was left on the road to die,” she said.
Taking a cue from fellow Saharanpur resident Atiya Sabri, Shagufta too decided to raise her voice against the instant divorce practice and wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for help.
The triple talaq is a Sharia law practice which allows men to end a marriage simply by saying “talaq” to their wives three times in succession.
While many Muslim-majority countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia have outlawed the custom for years, India -home to the world’s third-largest Muslim population- continues to allow it.

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Shagufta approached the local police station the same day she was thrown out. “However, they took my complaint and only assured me that they would look into the matter. They did not register an FIR and chased us away,” she said.
“Since then, my brother and my father are getting threatening calls and they (Shamshad and her inlaws) are threatening to kill us.”
Failing to get any help from the police, Shagufta sent a letter to the PM with copies to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, the National Commission for Women as well as the district magistrate and top cop.
“Mr Prime minister, it is my humble request to please help this poor and helpless woman. I also request you to ensure that this evil tradition ends so that woman like me and other victims get justice and live a dignified life,” she wrote.

 

She believes she will get help from the Prime Minister. Modi will be happy to help her and to underline the pet rhetoric of his party that those living in a Hindu country cannot follow personal laws of a foreign religion. This will also help BJP to pose itself as a champion of women’s rights. Non BJP opposition who is taking a stand of minorities themselves should decide their personal laws can easily be exposed here as pandering to patriarchs of Muslim community for votes.

For muslim women living in very conservative families, BJP’s Hindutva may seem much less oppressive than that they face day in and day out in their homes. For them BJP government will be a better ally than non BJP governments which depends on votes controlled by Muslim patriarchs.

Take home message is this:

If a severely patriarchal tribe do not reform itself, women of the tribe may ask and get help from a more powerful patriarch of a rival tribe.

If you want secularism and is troubled by gender oppressive religious laws, you should be in the fore front of the Muslim women’s struggle against oppressive patriarchal customs. If you are not there, the void will be filled by Hindutva and we may only get a Hindutva version of patriarchy instead of the Islamic one.

 

Hate speech gives you power

Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has a new chief minister who is a Hindu priest and the head of the Gorakhnath Math (Gorakhnath Mutt), a temple of the Nath monastic group in the Nath tradition. Prime minister Modi chose him because the saffron clad Yogi Adityanath was the most popular among BJP leaders. He became popular as he was able to raise hatred against Muslims the most, following the path shown by Modi himself.

Yogi Adityanath

Yogi Adityanath

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Incredibly intolerant India

Most Indians are proud of their country. They believe it is a free, tolerant,liberal country, think the Constitution guarantees free speech and the law and order machinery keeps the citizens safe. Even many abroad feel the same.

But the truth is far removed from this imaginary liberal India.

Most often Indians elect parties with intolerant majoritarian and undemocratic ideologies to run the governments. There is a competition among political parties to use religion, caste, nationalistic icons and cultural myths to mobilise voters and to cultivate hate. Questioning any of these with reason become blasphemous. Such free speech invites attack not only from goons but also from law and order machinery.

See what happened to college professor when he questioned why Shivaji, a (Hindu) cultural icon in some parts of India and a former king , is having two birthday celebrations, one in February and other in March. He was physically attacked by his students and fellow professors and later arrested by the Police. He was denied bail because the court believed his life is at risk outside the jail. I am sure the Police will not be inclined to arrest those who assaulted the professor.

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